Nairobi’s Westgate Mall siege didn’t shake tourism


KENYA: The Ministry of Tourism has said tourists are still checking in and authorities are optimistic the numbers will rise despite the terrorist attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall.

Speaking at the launch of the 7th Eco-tourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC13) at the Safari Park Hotel, Principle Secretary Ibrahim Mohammed said the ministry had stepped up marketing strategies.

“Terrorism is a global problem and people from across the globe seem to realise this. Tourists are still coming into the country to tour our beautiful sceneries and experience our diverse cultures,” he said.

Dr Ibrahim condemned the terrorist attack, terming it a cowardly act that should not be allowed to devastate Kenyans and gave assurance that security will be heightened across all tourist destinations to ensure tourists are safe.

He said the ministry has put in place marketing strategies that will see Kenya become a more popular destination than it is.

Muriithi Ndegwa, the chairperson of the Kenya Tourist Board, who was also present at the launch, said the ministry and the board are working closely with the counties to improve the industry.

“We are working closely with the counties to improve the potential of the tourism industry by providing vital infrastructural support, technological support and professional know-how. This is aimed at improving the overall industry,” he said.

Community involvement

Ndegwa also demystified the concept of eco-tourism by stating that it’s not a diversion from mainstream tourism. He said the only difference is the involvement of the community in the running and conservation of sites. He expressed his satisfaction with the pilot eco-tourism projects that have been started and are doing exceptionally well.

Costas Christ, a delegate at the forum, strongly condemned the terrorist attack and expressed confidence that Kenya would soon recover. He also supported the eco-tourism initiative.

Also attending the forum was the Director of Africa Conservation Centre Lucy Wariungu, and Eco-tourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference chairperson, Dr Kelly Bricker.